I was turning 21 and had pressing questions about the meaning of life. My boyfriend at the time was very handsome, but he was the strong silent type, and it was making me a little crazy.
I was in college at Temple University in Philadelphia. They had a free psychology center where students could go and talk to a licensed psychologist. At the time, I thought a licensed psychologist would know everything, not only about the meaning of life, but how to get my boyfriend to talk.
By the luck of the draw, I was assigned one whose name was (I kid you not) Dr. Love. His office had the best cozy lighting and the most comfortable chairs I’d ever seen. I was full of anticipation.
My first appointment I sunk into one of the chairs across from him and told him everything. I don’t think he even needed to ask me a question to get me started.
He listened and listened, very attentively. He took notes (I loved that). His face studied me.
After listening to me, he looked very sad and said, “Ingrid, your problem is you want to be happy all the time.”
I cried, “Eureka, Dr. Love! That’s exactly right! You understand! I want to be happy all the time!”
Then I said, “Wait a minute, what do you mean that’s my problem?”
He said, “Yes, that’s precisely your problem. It’s not realistic to want to be happy all the time. This is not something that can be remedied in just one session.”
I said, “How many sessions?” He said, “It could take a year, or longer.”
I thought to myself, “He wants me to spend a year with him learning how not to want to be happy?”
I thanked him and told him I would think about it. I left and never went back.
Somehow, I still felt very good about it. I hadn’t ever fully realized how much I wanted to fill every moment of my life with happiness. I felt I’d learned something valuable about myself.
I felt bad that I never got back to him, but I didn’t know how to tell him that I really didn’t want to adjust my expectations, I simply wanted a life and a boyfriend that made me happy. All the time.
All these many years later, I would love to say to him, “No, Doctor Love, wanting to be happy, that’s not a problem. It’s a very, very good way to live life.”
I’ve learned that creativity, learning and helping others unleashes happiness, that happiness is something I can create anywhere, anytime, that there is no restriction on how big it can get, it’s limitless and easily goes sky high.
That boyfriend is now happily married with children and a wife who love him just the way he is. I’m pretty sure I know the meaning of life. I’ve learned how to make other people happy. And I’m happy pretty much all the time. And I hope you are too, Dr. Love.